Esfahan’s Si-o-se Bridge: Soul Food

Si-o-Se Bridge, Esfahan

Si-o-Se Bridge, Esfahan

While the Iranian city of Esfahan is poetically referred to as “half the world”, the place to really feel this is Imam Square, a place I wrote about a few weeks ago. Meanwhile it is also a place to forget about the world and focus on art, literature and the finer things in life; and the best place to forget your worldly concerns is Si-o-Se Bridge.

Si-o-Se Bridge's teahouses by night, Esfahan

Si-o-Se Bridge’s teahouses by night, Esfahan

Esfahan is home to the most beautiful city centre anywhere in the Middle East. The city is built around the Zayandeh River which flows down from the Zagros Mountains encircling the city.

Zayandeh River, Esfahan

Zayandeh River, Esfahan

At the heart of the city are several bridges crossing the Zayandeh, the most picturesque being Si-o-Se Bridge (built in 1602) and Khaju Bridge (built 1650). They are both made of several connecting stone arches – in fact the name Si-o-Se means ’33’ in Farsi, reflecting the 33 arches from north to south.

Khaju Bridge, Esfahan. The lower plinths were designed to be utilised by locals reciting poetry.

Khaju Bridge.

Under each end of the bridges, under the arches are traditional tea shops. While Esfahan is a beautiful city, it is also a city for living. There are few things more pleasurable than sitting at one of these tea houses, sipping chai as the sun sets over the mountains. A water jet in the centre of the river is lit at night, as is the bridge. You can easily while away the hours people-watching, sipping tea with the river water coursing just a few metres below. Recent reports that the tea shops have closed after a drought dried the river edges, resulting in a lack of patronage.

Si-o-Se Pol Esfahan

Occasionally you might catch some locals playing the guitar, or reciting poetry on the steps below the Khaju Bridge at sunset – that’s what they were designed for, after all. Esfahan is soul food.

Zayandeh River, Esfahan

Zayandeh River, Esfahan

Where have you been that you feel nourishes the soul?

Comments (4)

  • Anna @ shenANNAgans Reply

    Please take me to the arch way of the bridge to sip chai and watch the sun set over the mountains, wow, that sounds just wonderful!

    My soul is most happy at the top of a mountain after a good long hike, the air is clean, I feel proud for achieving something and I am on top of the world. Throw a glass of bubbles into the mix and boom…. best. time. eva!

    July 4, 2016 at 3:59 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      I’d love to!! And as for your mountain top that you’re describing – sounds sublime 🙂

      July 5, 2016 at 8:00 am
  • Andrew Boland Reply

    Very unique and special bridge with no doubt Tim!

    July 5, 2016 at 9:42 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      I’d love to go back there some day – I hope they reopen the tea shops some time 🙂

      July 11, 2016 at 2:00 am

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